Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) states that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer or any person to sexually harass an employee. Protection from sexual harassment is not limited to male-female harassment. California law also prohibits “same gender” harassment and female-male harassment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves sexual propositions, unwarranted graphic discussion of sexual acts, and commentary on the employee's body and the sexual uses to which it could be put. Victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment are either expressly or impliedly threatened with termination unless they accept a supervisor's unwelcome sexual advances. Examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment include:

  • A supervisor threatening a subordinate with cutting her hours unless she goes out on dates with him;
  • A supervisor threatening a subordinate with a demotion unless she has sex with him;
  • A supervisor threatening a subordinate with termination unless she accepts his sexual advances.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment creates a hostile, offensive, oppressive, or intimidating work environment and deprives its victim of his/her statutory right to work in a place free of discrimination. A hostile work environment is created when the sexually harassing conduct sufficiently offends, humiliates, distresses or intrudes upon its victim, so as to disrupt his/her emotional tranquility in the workplace, affect his/her ability to perform his/her job as usual, or otherwise interferes with and undermines his/her personal sense of well-being.

An employee is the victim of hostile work environment when the employee is subjected to sexually offensive conduct at work, by either a supervisor or a co-worker. A hostile work environment shows itself in the form of intimidation and hostility for the purpose of interfering with an individual's work performance. Examples of hostile work environment include:

  • Circulating pornography in the workplace;
  • Telling "dirty" jokes or stories where others can hear them;
  • Making sexually suggestive remarks about others where others can hear the offensive remarks;
  • Staring, glaring or stalking a fellow co-worker;
  • Using offensive and derogatory words with a sexual connotation;
  • Physically touching a co-worker without that person’s consent;
  • Making inquiries into the sexual orientation of a person;
  • Observing a supervisor obtain sexual favors from another subordinate.

Even if the sexually offensive conduct is not directed at you, you may still have a claim. Know your rights. No one should put up with sexual harassment.

DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEX

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act [“FEHA”] declares that it is unlawful for an employer, because of the sex of any person, to refuse to hire or employ the person or to refuse to select the person for a training program leading to employment, or to bar or to discharge the person from employment or from a training program leading to employment, or to discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

Unwritten employment policies which send a message that specific types of work (e.g., truck drivers, construction workers, train engineers) have traditionally been "a man's job" and, hence, "no women need apply" are unlawful. Sex discrimination often takes the form of threats, rejection, ridicule and mockery.

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, or believe that you have been discriminated against because of your sex, we encourage you to contact us for a free confidential consultation. We have successfully represented numerous individuals who have suffered severe emotional distress after being victimized either by sexual harassment or sex discrimination.